Companies bid for public dock, jetpack contracts

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA — The bidding period for vendors seeking to operate jetpacks in Newport Beach and build a public floating dock for recreational boaters at the Long Beach Pine Avenue Pier officially closed in recent weeks.

There were no public announcements of who won the bidding process for either project as of Oct. 19.

Long Beach accepted bids for the floating dock project through Oct. 14, according to one website where Requests For Proposals (RFPs) are published. Companies placed bid to fabricate four concrete float segments and install six total floating docks on the east side of Pine Avenue Pier.

City officials estimated the project will cost $876,000 to complete; the company whose bid is closest to the estimate would likely earn the contract award.

The California Coastal Commission approved plans for the 180-foot floating dock at Pier Avenue Pier in March. City officials stated the floating dock was being built near Long Beach’s urban core to promote recreational boating and other marine-related uses. Building the proposed floating dock at Pine Avenue Pier would not adversely impact eelgrass, city staff stated.

A few miles south in Orange County, Newport Beach solicited RFPs from commercial operators who specialized in jetpack (or water-propelled vessel) operations last month. Three companies — AquaFlyers, Boat Rentals of America and JetPack America — reportedly submitted bids prior to Newport Beach’s Sept. 18 deadline.

JetPack America offered thrill seekers, tourists and other visitors the opportunity to “fly” over water with a water-propelled jet engine attached to the person. The company engaged in a long public process with City Hall to determine whether jetpacks should be allowed in Newport Harbor. The City Council finally agreed to allow water-propelled vessel operations to exist in the harbor’s Turning Basin.

Newport Beach granted JetPack America a Marine Activities Permit to continue its business its business through November. The city solicited RFPs from companies offering jetpack services beginning Aug. 18.

Dean O’Malley, president of JetPack America, said he hopes his company will be able to continue operating in Newport Beach.

“We are certainly hopeful and cautiously optimistic, since we feel that we are the best fit for the city, for a variety of reasons,” O’Malley said. “We’ve worked very hard over the past four years to build a solid reputation as a responsible and safe operator in the harbor and, during that time, we earned the distinction as the No. 1 water activity in Newport Beach on Trip Advisor.”

City Hall stated in its RFP a permit would be granted to a commercial operator “to operate a vessel(s) powered or maneuvered by means of mechanical water propulsion above the surface of the water in Newport Harbor.”

“The objectives of this RFP opportunity are to promote and instruct safe, enjoyable, and high-quality operations to the public while fairly allocating limited harbor resources. No permit shall be issued to a non-commercial operator to operate a vessel powered or maneuvered by means of mechanical water propulsion above the surface of the water in Newport Harbor,” the RFP stated.

More information about these RFPs, if made available, will be published as the news breaks.

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